“Carrier’s Address” (from Robert Merry’s Museum, January 1855; pp. 1-2)
and here’s my
NEW YEAR’S ADDRESS
all in Poetry.
I’ve done my best to make it good, and hope you will like it. I’m sure you will like our new number. It is full of engravings, and has lots of fun; then think of the beautiful gold watch just for writing an English sentence. Mr. Merry’s don’t brag himself, he can’t if he tries, but he just goes and makes the best Magazine that ever was or ever will be. I’m not a judge? Perhaps not, but I know what sells, and what boys and girls like. I KNOW it is the best, and so do you if you know any thing about it, and I reckon some of you are “know-somethings.” Now let me sell it to you for one dollar a year. Don’t stop because times are hard. Few more left, one dollar a year.
Hold! Father Time,—not quite so fast,
Good speed is better than hot haste;
And books and sages all declare,
That “haste makes waste,” and “wear maketh tear.”
Hold up a spell—you’re out of breath,
This furious haste will be your death;
And ere you close and bolt the door
Of eighteen hundred fifty-four,
Pray let us turn upon our track,
And o’er the solemn past look back,
Tho’ Hotspurs think but little of it,
In cool reflection there is profit;
And I’m persuaded even you
Would find advantage sound and true,
And, may be, not a little fun,
In summing up the deeds you’ve done.
Indeed, we Carriers are clear
You’d better do it every year,
And help us when our great distress is
In making our New Year’s Addresses.
Thus, in sound argument and rhyme,
We made petition to old Time,
Just to allow a moment’s pause,
To tell our tale and plead our cause.
But all our eloquence was lost,—
As well preach action to a post.
In vain we argued and appealed,
Not one iota would he yield,
Nor even deign a kindly look,
To say that he our meaning took;
And that, if “higher law” permitted,
He’d be quite willing to be seated,
And hold a little social talk
Before proceeding on his walk.
Right on, with that old plodding pace,
Shaking his forelock in our face,
He mowed his broad and heavy swath,
And shook his hour-glass as in wrath,
Till the last sand of fifty-four
Was spent and labelled “nevermore!”
Then turn’d the glass, eager to drive
Into the heart of fifty-five.
So here we are, “hard up” and “dry,”
The swift-wing’d hours are hurrying by,
And not one word of all the story
Which we design’d to set before ye—
No lips, no syllable made out
Of what the world has been about;
And nothing gather’d from the past
Time’s future mysteries to forecast.
Well, let it pass; we shrewdly guess
The reason why old Time would press
With eager step and fiery haste,
To bring up the year just past,
Is this—that seldom in his flight,
He’s found a year so far from right—
So full of loss, disasters, crimes,
And every species of “hard times,”
So that he felt ’twould mar his fame,
To write the record of that same;
Or even by courtesy permit
The tragic story to be write.
We saw him o’er the Greytown muse
With difficulty suppress a curse.
We saw him blush with burning shame
At some things done in Freedom’s name.
We saw him try to pause and weep
When sunk the Arctic in the deep.
We heard him sigh and groan as war
Swept onward in her iron ear,
Then jeeringly the issue reckon—
“Sebastopol is not yet taken!”
We heard him say, “The hour will come
When earth shall banish war and rum,
And when o’er all the sons of men
Truth, peace, and love shall constant reign;
And not till then would it be fitting
That each year’s history should be written,
When every page would be a text,
And preach its sermon to the next.”
Should we survive to that good day,
(And who can tell but that we may,)
We’ll test this promise, and expose
Whatever Time may then disclose;
Till then, with truth and love sincere,
We wish you all a Happy New Year.